Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri says Leipzig’s third goal in the first leg of their Europa League last 32 tie proved decisive, but is taking the positives from elimination.
Timo Werner’s late goal at the San Paolo last Thursday gave the German side a 3-1 away victory - meaning the Serie A leaders needed to score at least three times in tonight's return to progress.
And despite an impressive 2-0 win in Germany this evening levelling the aggregate score, the Partenopei were eliminated from the competition on the away goals rule.
“There is a little bit of regret, but the team showed it has character and that could be decisive for us at the end of the season,” Sarri commented following the final whistle.
“We made a huge mistake in the first leg, treating the last minute of the match as if it were the final minute of extra time.
“We paid for that final goal.”
Despite the disappointment of exiting Europe, the former Empoli Coach was at pains to stress how much his side have achieved this season.
“The team gave a strong response and that is a good message for the League.
“At times we all go for it a little too much. In the first leg we did not do well.
“We will take the important side to this story, that we have character.
“The good thing is that we will have more time to train.
“This club has achieved extraordinary results over these years. From this evening’s game you can take the positive that there is still one objective.
“In Italy, in the last six years nobody has ever fought it out with Juventus.
“Obviously everyone wants to win and so do we, but it should be recognised how much we have done.
“The pressure needs to be logical, it can’t become illogical. If we manage to make the people of Naples happy, it will be the greatest source of happiness for us.
“I want to thank the fans who came tonight. Of all the things we have done, the best has been the love between the fans and team.”
Already out of the Coppa Italia, Napoli now have 13 matches remaining in the season as they chase a first Scudetto in 28 years.
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